BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As many 249 babies were born with syphilis in Thailand this year, according to the Public Health Ministry.
"The babies were affected because their mothers were infected," the ministry's permanent secretary, Dr Sukhum Karnchanapimai, said on Saturday (May 18).
Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, can be transmitted via blood too.
Although curable, this disease can turn fatal if patients fail to recognise their infection and thus lose a chance to get timely treatment.
Dr Sukhum said between Jan 1 and May 13 this year, 3,080 people of all ages were diagnosed with syphilis.
Of them, 40.42 per cent are between 15 and 24 years old. Some 24.48 per cent others are between 25 and 34 years old.
"The number of syphilis patients is rising. The increase reflects that many teenagers and people in the reproductive age group have engaged in unsafe sex," he said.
Dr Sukhum said he has instructed provincial public health chiefs to closely monitor the situation and to prevent the disease from spreading.
He urged people to protect themselves by using condoms, refraining from having several sex partners, and regularly undergoing blood tests.
"Pregnant women, along with their husbands, should take blood tests too," he said.